TUESDAY, February 25, 2020
(This is a very unusual Mozart concerto because although it is written in major, it flips to minor for the second movement. I’ve set the video to start where that switch happens. You can listen to the whole thing by sliding the drag bar to the beginning, but I really want you to listen to the slow movement first. Try experiencing that darker and more thoughtful mood first, then listen to the whole concerto, if possible to notice how important that switch is. That switch only happens five times in all 27 concertos, and it never happens – EVER – in the symphonies or pianos sonatas.)
This whole post is blue, because I’m thinking of “blue” as perhaps just a little bit darker in mood. That is how this makes me feel.)
This is second of five piano concertos by Mozart to have a slow movement in a minor key – in C minor. It is scored for solo piano, 2 oboes, 2 horns (in Eb), and strings – only four players besides the piano and strings. The orchestra is small and intimate, but there is nothing scaled-back about the expression or creativity.
The whole thing is a miracle. Some think that it is the best of all of them. It certainly belongs at the top of any list.
The work has long been known as the Jeunehomme Concerto (“jeune homme” means “young man”), but the dedicatee was actually Victoire Jenamy (1749–1812), a daughter of Jean-Georges Noverre, a dancer who was one of Mozart’s friends.
Pires plays impeccably. I don’t like the arch in her neck. That’s a bad habit. But it does not seem to have hurt her body, and everything else is perfect. Her musical instincts are incredible, and she is still playing at her peak in her mid 70s, so whatever she is doing works. Gardiner is a conductor who always brings music of this period to life.